How the Oppo Machines Fared

Longtime friend of the blog Omar Zambrano contributes this fun little ditty to the dismal art of 7-O-ology…

It’s a cold, hard fact: electorally speaking, Chavez whipped our asses on Oct. 7th.  One commonly cited reason is the efficiency of the chavista Get Out the Vote drive: a well oiled machine that runs on the databases of recipients of new and renewed social programs.

But that’s just a hypothesis: how can we test it?

Well, if the Get Out the Vote effort had been the key, you’d expect a homogeneous effect in different parts of the country. After, where is it that Gran Misión Vivienda or Gran Misión en Amor Mayor data could be gathered, where chavista grass root organizations are strong and have plenty of state resources for mobilization? In a word: everywhere.

Trouble is, our asses got handed to us highly unevenly across the country. How come they humiliated us even in some urban strongholds while we managed to outperform our historic results even in traditionally chavista states like Merida?

My hypothesis: not every local opposition machine behaved equally. I try to get at this by measuring the effort of the local party machine in absolute terms with respect to our best performance in the recent past.

The way I do that is to identify 83 municipalities where the opposition was strong in theory because it holds the local government, or because it’s a chavista municipality with a friendly state government and a lot of oppo voters. I then relativize the increase in the opposition’s 7-O vote in terms of the increase of the voter registry in those places; and then add in the Oppo Party most affiliated with the local political machine (proxied by the party of the Mayor or candidate of the Unidad) in those places. Finally, I average the behavior of municipalities under the same oppo party machine relative to the electoral weight of each district. This produces a kind of synthetic score for how effective a given oppo party’s machine was on October 7th. Broadly: the chart shows the relative increase in votes Henrique got in the areas under the leadership of a given oppo party.

As expected, there is a lot of variation here. As we all suspected, Un Nuevo Tiempo (in Zulia) and Proyecto Venezuela (in Carabobo) performed abominably. Interestingly, though, Capriles’s own Primero Justicia was far from the best performing oppo party machine –although PJ is mostly in urban areas where the baseline is high and gains are more difficult.

Interestingly smaller party machines outperformed bigger ones in their little corners of the nation’s geography.  Also interesting is the variation in the Jurassic fauna’s performance: not all parties from the ancien regime did badly. What the old COPEI did in Merida City was remarkable enough to turn the whole state around.

Bottom line: Unless you have a reason to believe that the chavista machine put more effort in, say, Bejuma and San Carlos del Zulia, than in Cordero and Lobatera then Henry Ramos Allup and Omar Barboza, as well as Carabobo’s wannabe-Kennedy clan – have some ‘splaining to do.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.